Expression pattern of CAPA/pyrokinin neuropeptide genes in Remipedia and silverfish: Rapid differentiation after gene duplication in early Hexapoda, followed by strong conservation of newly established features in insects.
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Only few genes are known from insects that encode multiple neuropeptides, i.e., peptides that activate different receptors. Among those are the capa and pk genes, which differentiated within Hexapoda following gene duplication. In our study, we focus on the early stages of differentiation of these genes. Specifically: (1) What was the expression pattern of the ancestral capa/pk gene, i.e., prior to gene duplication? (2) What is the expression pattern of capa and pk in silverfish, whose ancestors diverged from Pterygota more than 400 mya? Our results suggest the location and projection of CAPA immunoreactive Va cells in abdominal ganglia (trunk ganglia in Remipedia) are a plesiomorphic trait that was already present in the ancestor of Remipedia and Hexapoda. General features of serial homology such as location of cells bodies, contralateral projection of primary neurites, and presumed peripheral peptide release from segmentally arranged neurohemal release sites could be observed in Remipedia and silverfish, but also in all Pterygota studied so far. Differences are mainly in the specific location of these peripheral release sites. This hypothetical basic pattern of capa/pk neurons underwent modifications in the anterior ganglia of the ventral nerve cord already in Remipedia. In silverfish, as in all Pterygota studied so far, pk expression in the CNS is apparently restricted to the gnathal ganglia, whereas capa expression is typical of abdominal Va cells. Thus, differentiation in the expression pattern of capa and pk genes occurred early in the evolution of Hexapoda; likely soon after the appearance of two separate genes.